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Paul Walker FMPA is one of the UK’s best pet photographers and author of the internationally selling book “Pet Photography Now”. He has extensive experience of photographing pets and animals with many different temperaments, from rescue dogs through to highly trained dogs at Crufts. His bespoke pet imagery and attitude to pet photography is well regarded, as are his crazy “animal wizardry tricks”. These have been learned and refined over many years, guaranteeing the personality of the pet will be more than just captured with a resulting set of professional images to treasure for a lifetime.

The Visiting Vet was lucky enough to get him to answer a number of questions about how to get the best  possible home photos of your pet.

1/ How do I get my pet to sit still?

Either obedience training, or food treats are the main two methods, though I always prefer the former method if the owner has put the work in.  For cats, it may well be food treats or perhaps after exercise a dog will be that bit more compliant.

2/ How do I get my pet to look at the camera ?

You need to entertain the pet’s senses, whether it be sound or smell (food).  I have a large repertoire of different sound makers together with other noises, its about arousing the pets curiosity.

3/ What’s the easiest way to get a good action shot?

Have another person throw an object that interests the pet from left to right in front of your line, so that the pet is running perpendicular to you.  Cameras often focus easier when the pet is running from left to right or right to left rather than straight at the camera.

4/ How do you photograph a black animal?

It really is all about the light and where it is falling on to the pet subject.  Black dogs and white dogs can be hard because you need to get the detail showing in the fur of the pet.  Sometimes you can have black and white pets and in such cases I’d opt to have the detail retained in the white fur.  The key is in setting the correct exposure with your camera and having the light in the direction that shows the level of detail required.

5/ How do you photograph a white animal?

Very similar to that of the black pet – get the correct exposure so the detail is retained in the white fur.  With a very high midday sun, sometimes positioning the white pet in an area with top shade can help reduce the harsh light that is falling from above.

6/ What’s the best way to get a good picture of a ‘small furry’ or reptile.

Often food is the main way of directing such pets, so observe the light and background and position the food in any area that will tempt the pet into such places.

7/ Is there anything I can do for a nervous or camera shy pet?

yes, take your time, be patient and gentle, do not move around too abruptly or make too loud a noise, build the session up gently and get the respect and trust of the pet.  Involve yourself in some of the pet’s favourite activities.

8/ How to get a good photo of a child and their pet?

Don’t they say “never work with children and animals” – think of ways that they could interact whether it be a child throwing a ball, running together etc..ensure that safety and welfare is key and that there are enough handlers to help out.

9/ Whats the best way to photograph fish in a tank?

Unless you are going to use an underwater camera, fish can be tricky, ensure the flash is turned off and ensure that the tank is illuminated or positioned next to an area of great light.  Fish often do not stay still for long periods but some great images can be taken around feeding time, you can easily position certain types of food in the best places in terms of light or backgrounds.  Tubifex worms are a great sight to see in the open mouth of a goldfish as it tussles with the food cube.

Paul takes photographs his subjects on location. He is based in Scotland but travels down to London 4 times a year.

Follow him on Facebook and Twitter or enquire about booking a session with him by clicking here.